Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Reader Upset by Friend’s Shoplifting

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a friend I have known for ages. I considered her to be family. There was an incident, however, that changed it all. One day, my friend and I went to a convenience store to pick up a few things. I asked her if she wanted anything -- even told her that I would pay -- but she declined. So I purchased my items and left the store.

When we were a block away from the store, she pulled out several candy bars. I was shocked. I asked her if she had purchased them, and she said, “I stole them.” I told her to go back and return the candy, but she wouldn’t listen to me. She’s done it numerous times since. I was, and still am, disgusted by her actions.

My biggest problem is that my other friends do not know her bad habits. I want to tell them because I do not trust going anywhere with her after she pulled that stunt, but I worry that they would think I am snitching on her. She is my good friend, but I have a lingering fear of what kind of trouble she could face if she gets caught. Do my other friends have a right to know? -- Speechless

DEAR SPEECHLESS: Arrange a face-to-face meeting with your friend. Tell her you don’t trust her anymore. Ask her why she steals. Tell her you are concerned that she will steal again while with you or with mutual friends, and that that is unacceptable. Point out that you can be considered an accessory if she is caught while you are together. Suggest that she get help to deal with her desire to steal. Tell her you think your mutual friends need to know and that you plan to tell them unless she would like to speak to them first. Give her the courtesy of letting her know your plans.

Let your friends know what happened, that you have told her of your intention to talk to them and of your desire to support her as she works through this problem. You may want to avoid going to places where she might steal if you continue to distrust her. For more ideas on handling this difficult situation, visit adv4life.com/article/what-to-do-if-your-friend-shoplifts.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My daughter just started liking a boy who likes her back. They have talked on the phone a few times, but recently I learned that one of her best friends has started dating this boy. From what I can gather, this friend started moving in on him after she learned that he and my daughter were talking. How awful. I feel so bad for my daughter, but I’m not sure what to do. I feel like she has to work through this on her own, but as her mother, I hate to see her hurting. SOS! -- Betrayed Daughter

DEAR BETRAYED DAUGHTER: Be a sounding board for your daughter. Give advice only if she asks for it. There is no simple solution. She can confront her friend. She can see how it plays out with the boy -- see who he chooses. When she is ready to talk about it, you can point out that she should be mindful of any friend who would intentionally try to steal a “boyfriend” from her.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)